This is the BMW iX3, which as its name suggests, is a fully-electric version of BMW’s popular X3 SUV. BMW is covering all of its bases with the X3 which is now available with petrol, diesel, plug-in-hybrid and electric power. The iX3 goes up against other EVs like the Audi e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-e and Mercedes-Benz EQC, and it offers up to 460 kilometres of range from a single charge. Prices start from €73,295 in Ireland, and it arrives on the market alongside the BMW iX and i4 which are other new electric models.
Starting outside, the iX3 doesn’t look all that different to the existing X3, although it is slightly lower to the ground and it also has slightly less ground clearance due to the battery running along the floor. Features that distinguish it from the normal X3 include an enclosed black grille up front and restyled alloy wheels which help to improve aerodynamics. There’s also blue detailing in various areas around the outside which BMW adds to all of its electric models. As standard the iX3 gets 19-inch alloy wheels, but this Premier Edition Pro model is fitted with larger 20-inch black aero wheels. There are four different colour choices, this one being Carbon Black Metallic and it looks stealthy with the matching wheels.
It is pretty much identical to the normal X3 inside, but that is a good thing as the quality is very good and it feels suitably premium throughout. There is more blue detailing inside which again is BMW’s way of reminding you it’s an electric car, while the infotainment and driver’s display also get specific EV displays such as a battery gauge instead of a fuel gauge and regenerative braking information. The system itself is easy to use and it can be controlled by voice recognition, through the touch screen or the iDrive controller which is the easiest option.
BMW has kept a lot of the climate controls and driving modes in physical controls which is a nice touch when most other brands are going down the route of shoehorning everything into touch screen systems. The driving position is very good with lots of adjustment from the electric sports seats which are included as standard, and the steering wheel is really nice and slim and has lots of control built-in. Rear space is the same as the regular BMW X3 with good passenger room and plenty of head and leg room to accommodate three tall passengers. Despite being an electric car it retains the transmission tunnel from the combustion-engine engine X3 which restricts leg room slightly in the middle seat however. A glass panoramic sunroof is standard and it fills the cabin with light which means it feels bright inside.
The seats recline forward and backwards so it easy to get comfortable, and there is an armrest with built-in cupholders, while you also get easily-accessible ISOFIX mounts. An electric tailgate is standard and it opens to reveal a very usable 510 litres of boot space. It does lose a little underfloor storage compared to the regular BMW X3 due to addition of the battery system, but overall it is a very practical space with a flat floor layout. Drop the rear seats down and space increases to 1510 litre which should be more than enough to accommodate flat pack furniture and everything else in between. Unfortunately there isn’t additional storage space underneath the bonnet for your charge cables like you get in the Audi e-tron or Jaguar i-Pace, even though there is seemingly enough room to fit something in here.
BMW has developed what it calls Iconic sounds for the iX3 in conjunction with legendary film score composer Hans Zimmer, with interesting sounds when you start and drive. The iX3 has an 80 kilowatt hour battery, 74kWh of which is usable, and it has a claimed range of up to 460 kilometres from a single charge. This will vary depending on your driving style, but we’ve found it to be quite efficient during our test. Claimed consumption is around 19 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres of driving and from our test we found this to be accurate. The iX3 sends 286 horsepower to the rear wheels via a single electric motor so it feels very responsive.
It is slightly confusing that the IX3 is not available with all-wheel drive despite having an X in its name. Instead it is uses a single electric motor and it is only available in rear wheel drive. That said it is still swift to drive, with the sprint from 0-100km/h taking just 6.8 seconds but this is notably slower than other EVs like the Jaguar iPace or Mercedes EQC, not that it’s going to be a big deal for most drivers. There are different driving modes available including Eco, Comfort and Sport and interestingly, adaptive suspension is standard.
Out on the road it’s smooth, quiet and refined, especially in the Comfort mode which relaxes the suspension and this is well suited to Irish roads. When you select sport mode the steering gets slightly heavier, the suspension stiffens and you get those Hans Zimmer-inspired driving noises, and it is quite engaging to drive. The handling is good and it feels like a BMW to drive, even though it is a very heavy car. Of course the iX3 is also packed with BMW’s latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional which all work very well indeed, but take getting used to.
The iX3 can rapid charge at speeds of up to 150 kilowatts, which means it can charge from 0 to 80 percent in 34 minutes at a rapid charging station. For a quick top up with a rapid charger, BMW claims that it is possible to add 100 kilometres of range in just 10 minutes. Buyers are most likely to charge at home however and the iX3 will take around 7 and a half hours with a domestic wall box charger at home.
Prices for the BMW iX3 M Sport which is the entry model in Ireland start from €73,295, and it is very well equipped as standard which you would expect at this price point. This gets 19-inch aero wheels, an electric tailgate, adaptive suspension, a heated steering wheel, electric heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, wireless phone charging, and lots more. The higher specification M Sport Pro model starts at €76,895 and it gets extra features such as a head-up display, a harmon kardon sound system, parking assistant plus, darkened headlights, automatic high beam assist, gesture control and the BMW Iconic sounds developed in collaboration with Hans Zimmer.
So should you buy the BMW iX3? Well if you are looking for a premium electric SUV that is agile and refined to drive, offers a strong real world range and is easy to live with as a first time EV, then it’s definitely one to consider. When you compare the standard kit on offer in the iX3 versus the petrol and diesel-powered X3 models it may be worth the price premium. The iX3 isn’t available with a four wheel drive option like many of its rivals however, while it also isn’t as fast either if performance is your thing. Some would also say that it’s styling is much more conventional and less futuristic than many other electric SUV on the market right now, but we reckon that’s going to prove popular with many first time EV buyers who are looking for a premium SUV.